MALTA 2020 - Destiny - All of My Love: "Awesome for Maltese standards... Decent in absolute terms"
Malta is part of my all-time bottom 5 gang, for I never was able to support one of their entries since I started following the contest closely. I feel like they have little to nothing to offer on a musical level, and when they buy foreign songs, it's not really that memorable either imo. Good thing for them is that - despite these impediments - they get unconditional love from juries, which has become kind of a running joke over the years for some of us. If I had to pick one song since 2009 (the year I officially became a Eurofan), I would choose Glen Vella's "One Life": an unpretentious song with a clean delivery, although the staging was cheesy. And I don't even love it, which tells you how much I cared about the rest (that includes a few pet peeves of mine). I had the chance to meet Glen last year and he's a really nice guy btw.
I followed the Maltese NF once when it still was MESC, and did not bother when they opted for a talent show selection since Malta usually has no issue finding a decent vocalist, it's the musical department that always falls short to me. Of course, I heard about Destiny since people have been raving about her ever since she appeared in JESC, and I must admit she seems to have a bit more skill than the average contestant. But since I had zero expectations otherwise, I didn't know what the final package would sound like. Eventually, Malta 2020 is a bit in the middle for me, not because it's middle of the road per se, but because there are strengths and weaknesses in equal measure, which makes it hard for me to put it in a clear category.
"All Of My Love" is a radio-friendly power pop track with a strong gospel music feel. What I like about it is the production for the arrangements are well-crafted, it does sound like a finished product and there is a convincing build-up that does justice to the effect and impact I assume the songwriters intended. It reminds of me of Adele's album 21, it wouldn't have been out of place there. The melody is not my favourite thing ever, but it's decent for the most part and certainly above average compared to all the mid crap I have been fed this year, I particularly like the second part of the chorus ("All the love I feel for you / All of my love") and the bridge that imo is what elevates the whole composition. The choir effect here is definitely an added value imo. Finally, I don't know Destiny but I feel like she's in her element, the song suits her voice and she injects a bit of life in an otherwise conventional composition.
Let's move on to the weaknesses: well, you can tell from miles around this is a manufactured cookie-cutter import. There is no originality whatsoever, the melody is safe and the arrangements are by-the-numbers (that distorted voice used as an intro and the piano accords at the beginning...). This is a song I should despise because this is such stuff that bothers and bores me in the contest, but it's one of those instances where I do enjoy it to some extent. Maybe it's because this edition is so not for me that some entries I couldn't have cared less about happen to catch my attention?... Maybe. Yet, I feel Destiny could have done even more with a better entry. Am I tripping or did I read somewhere that was a Bulgarian demo from 2016? That wouldn't surprise me, but to me it shows how sad and desperate some internal selections are. It's like "Cleopatra" being passed around from San Marino to Azerbaijan: isn't there enough talented songwriters out there to dig and fight over factory-made goods through an obscure marketplace? That is a real question.
Prediction-wise, it would have qualified no doubt because the "Malta label + mainstream pop + vocal stuff" combo would have had juries fainting. I could even envision the first place in semi 1 in their ranking, but I don't think it would have done as well with televoters. In the end, I think they could have pulled a mid-table result with a mid-table finish in televoting and a top ten with juries.
To sum up, "All Of My Love" may become my favourite Maltese entry ever for the time being, because I do enjoy it for what it is, which is more than I can say about their past attempts. And while that is unoriginal and far from awesome, I find it way superior in terms of energy, drive and "emotion" to the recent entries of the same niche, namely "Too Late For Love", "Nobody But You" and - dare I say - "Move". I'm confident Destiny would have knocked the Mamas out of her way with ease. I'm glad that Destiny will come back, here's a second chance for the Maltese team to find a composition that stands out more and does Destiny's talent justice. Wait and see.
I am yet to hear an ESC material from her that I actually like I think she's a great performer, but somehow, none of her songs are doing anything for me. This song is quite generic. It would have qualified (probably) and then ended up somewhere between 15th and 20th place in the final.